Holiday Traditions in Northern Michigan

Our Northern Michigan community is ripe with holiday traditions and events for family and friends to take part in. I know, for me, someone new to the Petoskey community, it is truly a joy to find that the area is so welcoming with their events.

Our Northern Michigan community is ripe with holiday traditions and events for family and friends to take part in. I know, for me, someone new to the Petoskey community, it is truly a joy to find that the area is so welcoming with their events. Especially this time of year as the snow starts to fall and temperatures drop, it certainly feels like the holidays are upon us. Something about the weather invokes in me a feeling of joy and hopefulness, a feeling that comes upon me year over year at this time. The world takes on a new-look with fresh snow and crisp air. With that, an excitement blooms, an excitement to eat hearty meals with family. An excitement builds to see extended family that you haven’t seen since the last holiday. Lastly, an excitement builds for a new year coming with new promises and opportunities.

Holiday Open Houses

The area open houses help to put the season in perspective by offering friendship with strangers as you all partake in the same joy and merriment. Knowing that whatever issues you have had to overcome in the past year can be put aside for an evening of innocence makes the events so much the sweeter.

Holiday open houses have been a tradition in Northern Michigan for years. This December 1 marks the annual Holiday Open House in Petoskey. In fact, the tree lighting ceremony that takes place in Harbor Springs just after Thanksgiving has been going on for 102 years! Let that sink in — 102 years!

Here are just a few suggestions of what you can do, including the holiday open houses, to build on your holiday traditions this year.

Santa’s Workshop at Stafford’s Perry Hotel

This is a great, kid-friendly event that happens every Saturday from late November until Christmas. Bring your kiddos out to see Santa, share their wishlist, and get cookies and hot chocolate, all for free!

Saturday’s with Santa at Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen

Kilwins has been around since 1947, and it doesn’t take much to see why. Just take a few moments this holiday season to stop by Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen. Visit with Santa, take a chocolate tour that rivals Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and treat yourself to some freshly made fudge. According to the Facebook event page, kids get a chance to hand-dip their own pretzel and the event is free! You can’t beat that!

Petoskey Holiday Open House

December 1, downtown Petoskey, you will find that holiday cheer is in full effect.

This annual event is the first Friday each December. You can expect to see Santa Claus lighting the giant Christmas Tree in Pennsylvania Park and catching up with children for their wish lists. The Petoskey Steel Drum Band, a band that is becoming known across the United States, will surely be there with their holiday classics. Lastly, the local shops will be more than welcoming as you peruse their holiday sales.

Harbor Springs Merchant’s Open House

Another annual event, held the first Saturday of December, is the Harbor Springs Merchant’s Holiday Open House. Harbor Springs is a community straight out of a postcard; don’t let anyone say any differently. Each year Main Street is closed off to traffic and is opened to foot traffic. Refreshments are served, the Petoskey Steel Drum band plays, and fun is had by all.

Choose Your Own Christmas Tree

As far back as I can remember, my family had a tradition of picking out our Christmas tree. We would all bundle up and schlepped off to the local Christmas tree farm. We would take a hay ride out and carefully inspect each tree for fullness, height, and perfection. We would all have differing opinions on which tree was best, but we all agreed on one thing, we were having fun. Our dad would ultimately stop the driver and leap out to cut down the perfect Christmas tree. We would haul it back and as it was being bound up for transport, the rest of us would gather around enjoying hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies. I can still smell those cookies as if they were right here in front of me. We would get our tree home and decorate it as a family, using the same ornaments year over year. It was truly magical.

There are several places in our area that offer the opportunity to build those same memories with your friends or family.

Just to name a few:

  • Pond Hill Farm – 5699 South Lakeshore Drive, Harbor Springs
  • Bosma’s Christmas Tree Farm – 3133 South Pleasantview Road, Harbor Springs
  • Bill’s Farm Market – 4450 East Mitchell Road, Petoskey
  • Goslin’s Greenery – 269 South Fletcher Road, Petoskey
  • McPhersons Tree Farm – 8103 Ellsworth Road, Ellsworth


Jennifer Carson is the Director of Operations with Coldwell Banker Fairbairn Realty. She is a licensed Real Estate Agent in the State of Michigan. She has certifications in mediation and has a passion for helping people problem solve. Jennifer is a lifelong "Michigander" and currently resides in Petoskey, Michigan. She loves exploring all that Northern Michigan has to offer.

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